A visit to remember | Home Again

By Joanne Peterson | Aug 27, 2017

The drive from Rathdrum, Idaho, to Edmonds is a bit over 325 miles. I am keenly aware of that distance every time I feel lonesome for my son and his family.

I think of their 5 acres of green northern Idaho property, with horses grazing quietly in the fenced pasture, 14-year-old Annika’s half-ton 4-H steer lounging in a smaller enclosure, Guinea hens visiting among themselves as they putter outside the barn, while the laying hens browse within the tall chicken-wire fence surrounding their house.

Almost every evening, just before sunset, at least one deer ambles across the pasture, just beyond the horses, gazes curiously at them and lightly jumps the fence to disappear into the woods.

Oh, if only my son Brad, his wife Debbie and Annika lived half the distance away, I might drive over there a couple of times a month to stay two nights, get my fix of their little family and their country lifestyle and return home refreshed.

I’d also invite them to travel this direction whenever they could get away from the country – which is difficult for them to do.

If I lived closer, I’d certainly plan to be at their county fair in Coeur d’Alene in late August, where every year Annika shows her lamb or hogs or steer – each of which she has named and loved. I presumably was mistaken in my belief that animals headed for auction mustn’t be named – and presumably not loved, though how to avoid loving an animal does mystify me.

As the days of the fair progress each August, my granddaughter shows her animals in several events, suffers through various rounds of judging in thick heat and dust and flies, and then watches her treasured animals be auctioned off, loaded into the back of someone else’s truck and hauled away to an absolutely certain and terrible future.

She picks up her astonishingly large check and goes home, teary-eyed, sad and aware that next season she’ll be starting all over again, with money in the bank.

When I see photos of a smiling Annika, cheek to cheek with Ollie, this year’s gentle and petlike steer, I just can’t figure out how she’ll pull off this particular end-of-fair goodbye. I am proud of Annika, proud of how she has grown through 4-H and of how hard she works month after month to raise fine healthy animals to take to the fair.

But I’ll never figure out how she does it. Perhaps, though, she’ll follow her intention to become a large-animal vet, and these 4-H years of mental and emotional toughness will pay off.

The fact remains that I do live 325 miles away from my son and his family, and we don’t manage to get together very often. I’ve been dealing with health issues for a while, and sometimes I feel extra lonely for my son.

When he surprised me last week with a quick text to say he thought he’d drive over on Friday to see me and take me out for my birthday dinner, I was delighted. Beyond delighted.

My son arrived from Rathdrum at 4 p.m. on Friday, with plenty of time to sit on the deck and visit before our waterfront dinner reservation at Arnies, always my first choice.

We invited Uncle Warren to go to dinner with us, and on the way visited the tall ships at the marina. After dinner, Brad and I strolled out onto the fishing dock. Later in the evening – and the next morning ¬– we spent more hours talking, sometimes lighthearted and sometimes somber.

By 11 a.m. Saturday, Brad was on his way home to Idaho. What could possibly leave a mother’s heart and spirit healthier and happier than an unexpected visit from a beloved and loving son? My boy drove 650 miles roundtrip for a birthday dinner and several hours of conversation.

He left behind a gift of lasting memories.


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